We’re in a region where the majority of the population is under the age of 24. The youth is the story of the Middle East. And yet I didn’t feel this way at a recently-held event on corporate social responsibility here in Dubai. Many of the speakers were in their fifties or sixties. The audience, while slightly younger, were still old enough to be a decade or two above the region’s median age.
While the speeches about sustainability and social responsibility were notable for their good intentions and advice, there still seems to be a good deal of the old leading the young rather than empowering young to help themselves. There have been a couple of notable attempts to break this mould, such as Coca Cola’s Ripples of Happiness which supported university students in Bahrain, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan to identify opportunities for CSR and employment projects.
I hope that corporations and governments understand what I’m trying to convey above. If we’re going to engender change in the region, the agents of change will be the youth. They need to be given the chance to set an agenda for social change and social responsibility rather than have ideas developed by older generations.
For more info about Coca Cola’s Ripples of Happiness please see the video below which is from the Dubailynx.com website.